The Gunners are keen to sign the Leicester City forward and the France international, who has been booed by his own fans, has something to prove at this summer’s tournament.
“You know we give the light and importance to stupid people. People who booed Olivier Giroud, if you ask them why they did it? I am not sure they have an answer, that’s the problem.”
The words of former France international Frank Leboeuf, speaking exclusively to Goal, will most likely fall on deaf ears when it comes to the Les Bleus fans whose questionable decision to boo their in-form striker has sparked debate during the build-up to Euro 2016.
Olivier Giroud, like many highly-paid professional athletes in the limelight, attracts praise and criticism everywhere he goes. The Frenchman can frustrate fans at times with his gesticulating and wailing when things don’t go his way, and, can equally delight those same supporters by scoring crucial goals and showing the brute strength of a gazelle. His 16 Premier League goals last season are an example of just how impressive he can be, although Arsenal fans will be quick to remind you that he wasted many opportunities ‘given to him on a plate’ by assist-machine Mesut Ozil.
Giroud was one the first Arsenal players to publicly speak about Jamie Vardy’s seemingly impending move to north London when he told Sky Sports “I have been told that Jamie wants to join us and it’s very good news for us”. Indeed, a week later those comments may turn out to be slightly exaggerated as it has since emerged that Vardy wants to wait until England’s Euro 2016 campaign is finished before he makes a final decision on his future.
Leicester striker Vardy scored 24 goals as the Foxes won the first top flight title last season – he was also top of the goal involvement table and his arrival at the club could see the Frenchman’s position placed under threat.
There is no doubt that Arsene Wenger wants to bring in a world class striker to compete with Giroud for a starting spot. The Gunners boss has been in the market for a player of that ilk for several years now having had bids rejected for the likes of Luis Suarez and Gonzalo Higuain.
If he can get the Vardy signing over the line then questions also remain over whether Arsenal’s formation will be switched to suit the England forward. Leicester’s success from last season was built upon a counter attacking philosophy which not only included long balls being hit towards Vardy, but teams opening up against Claudio Ranieri’s side, allowing the 29-year-old to get in behind opposition defences.
Perhaps the reason Giroud admires his peer so much is due their similar back stories. In 2012, when Montpellier were crowned champions of Ligue 1 for the first time in their history, it was Giroud who guided them to victory with his 21 goals and 9 assists. He single handedly fired MHSC to a historic league title just like Vardy did, albeit with some help from Riyad Mahrez, Wes Morgan and co. Giroud’s prolificacy prompted the club’s eccentric owner Louis Nicollin to quote a transfer fee of ‘at least €50 or €60 million’ for his talisman before he joined Arsenal for £12m the following summer.
Before hearing of Wenger’s interest in Vardy, the 29-year-old met with Wenger for showdown talks over his own future. Giroud wanted clarification on whether his compatriot sees him as Arsenal’s first choice striker and wanted to know if another forward will be brought in this summer. The result of those talks has clearly left Giroud with fire in his belly and something to prove ahead of the European Championships which kick off in his homeland on Wednesday. Rest assured that he’ll be keeping one eye on England’s game against Russia on Saturday just to gauge an indication of whether Vardy will be challenging him for the coveted Golden Boot.
Since qualifying for Euro 2016, Giroud has scored 7 goals in 7 games for Didier Deschamps’ men. The aforementioned frustrations of fans are mostly directed at the non-selection of star man Karim Benzema, a player who would have made the world of difference for a young Les Bleus side this summer.
It seems that supporters are yet to accept that the Real Madrid striker isn’t playing for his country this summer. Despite that, Giroud can certainly win these fans over, and all that is required is consistent, hard-working performances and goals in every game. While for some that may be difficult, Vardy has proven in the past six months that work ethic beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
“Two years ago they booed Andre Pierre Gignac and now when he comes on they cheer him, there is no sense in football. Dugary had that problem, even Michel Platini had that problem when he was booed and I remember (David) Beckham being booed after 98 and then he became a fantastic player and loved by all English fans.”
As Leboeuf says, booing is a facet of football fan culture and if Giroud can continue how he left off in France’s international friendlies there should be no reason why he shouldn’t be able to take his team to European glory in their own backyard.
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